US President Donald Trump has signed into law an unprecedented $2.2 trillion (€2.1 trillion) economic relief bill to help combat the financial implications of the coronavirus.
On Thursday, the United States surpassed China's total of COVID-19 cases with more than 82,000 reported infections. Almost half of all cases in the US have occurred in the state of New York.
What does the package entail?
Essentially, it is a bridge loan to sustain and stimulate an ailing economy until the virus is contained.
- Single US citizens will receive $1,200, married couples $2,400, and parents will get $500 for each child under the age of 17.
- Payments will start to phase out for those with adjusted gross incomes of more than $75,000.
- People making more than $99,000 are not eligible.
- Student loan payments are to be suspended until September 30.
- The federal government will give unemployed people an additional $600 per week for the next four months, on top of their state benefits.
What have been the reactions?
Having passed both the Senate earlier in the week and then the House of Representatives on Friday morning, Trump duly signed it into law in the afternoon.
"This will deliver urgently needed relief," Trump said as he put pen to paper in the Oval Office, flanked only by Republican lawmakers. He expressed gratitude to members of both parties for putting Americans "first."
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi joined President Trump's effusive praise of the bill and what it will do for US citizens. "The American people deserve a government-wide, visionary, evidence-based response to address these threats to their lives and their livelihood and they need it now," Pelosi said.
Earlier, before the bill had passed the House, Trump lashed out at Republican Representative Thomas Massie who appeared to be trying to delay the vote by insisting on a more formal process.
The president tweeted: "He just wants the publicity. He can't stop it, only delay," the president wrote in a series of tweets. ".... throw Massie out of Republican Party!"
"Today's vote is about saving lives and livelihoods," said Republican Representative Kevin Brady.